Queso Chile Verde

According to my Spanish dictionary, queso means cheese in English. I checked just to make sure. Because for a while now I’ve noticed that a queso can imply a warm cheese dip that’s often served with salsa and chips at Mexican restaurants. It’s usually somewhat gelatinous, tasteless, and just plain awful. Why wouldn’t it be? They’re not going to put a lot of money into something that they’re giving away.

There is an American version of queso that’s popular, made with Velveeta. Now if you’ve followed my blog for any time now, you know that I abhor this cheese “food.” In fact, it’s what my mother and I used to use on our hooks when we went fishing. It wasn’t until I got married that I learned that people actually ate the stuff!

Velveeta “queso” is made from a giant block of Velveeta, plus some canned tomatoes that contains green chilies. And I think that’s it. The only positive with Velveeta is that it melts well, so the dip if smooth. I don’t care how smooth it is. I won’t touch it.

But Mexican quesos, if they’re not giving away the stuff, can be way more interesting. Those cheese dips can be really flavorful when they’re made with good cheese. If I come across a good queso at a Mexican restaurant, I always have my husband, who’s fluent in Spanish, ask the waiter what kind of cheese they use, out of curiosity. They invariably tell me queso blanco, which translates to white cheese. Now, I think they’re either pulling my chain, or they just don’t know. But there’s no Mexican cheese called queso blanco. But I’ll continue asking until I get a good answer!

So you might be wondering why I wrote a post on Southwestern-inspired food last week, and mentioned that I was going to be surprising everyone with exactly that – something inspired by Southwestern cuisine! Well this is it! I’m making a queso, but not an awful American one, nor a gloppy Mexican variation.

I give you queso, chili verde style. You might be familiar with hearty Pork Chile Verde, a version of which is on this blog. It’s what I used for inspiration!

This queso is Southwestern style, because I’m using a combination of jalapenos, poblanos, tomatillos, and cilantro, all of which are chile verde components. And for the queso part, I’m using Oaxaca cheese, which melts just as well as Velveeta. Plus I’m throwing in some chorizo.

So here’s my Southwestern version of a queso, chili verde style!

Queso Chile Verde

1 pound tomatillos
1 large onion
4 jalapenos
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 Poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, de-seeded, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup crema, or sour cream
14 ounces Oaxaca cheese, coarsely chopped
Mexican chorizo, cooked and drained, optional
Chopped fresh cilantro, optional
Tortilla chips

Place the tomatillos in a skillet large enough to hold them in one layer. Mine were fairly large so a regular-sized skillet worked well. Turn on the heat to high, and roast the tomatillos a little, moving them around constantly. This will actually help remove the papery peels.

queso44

Let them cool, then remove the peels. If you’d like, you can rinse the tomatillos in warm water to remove some of the natural stickiness. I didn’t.

queso22

Turn on the roast setting on your oven for 425 degrees F, or turn on the broiler.

Get out a jelly-roll pan. Finely chop the onion and place the pieces on the pan. De-stem the tomatillos and place those along with the onion on the pan.

You need to remove the stems and seeds from the jalapenos. I always wear a glove on my left hand to avoid getting jalapeno juice in my eyes.

There are many ways to deal with jalapenos. I’ve even tried two different jalapeno de-seeders and neither worked. So here’s how I do it:

Slice off the stem and hold the jalapeno perpendicular to the cutting board. Slice along the outside of the jalapeno from top to bottom, again and again, until all you have left is the seedy core. This is very similar to avoiding the seeds in a green pepper, if you do it this way. You’re left with lovely strips of jalapeno flesh, which you can simply chop for your purposes.

queso11

For this recipe, finely chop the jalapenos and add them to the onion and tomatillo.

queso9

Drizzle on the olive oil and add a little salt and pepper. Only a little salt; the crema and the Oaxaca cheese are both salty to me.

Roast the vegetables in the oven, taking care to not over brown them. They should look like this:

queso6

If you used a roasting setting, keep the oven on. If you used the broiler, turn it off.

Meanwhile, add the tablespoon of oil to a skillet on the stove. This skillet is also going to be my serving vessel, but it doesn’t have to be.

Saute garlic in the oil for just a few seconds over low heat, then stir in the chopped Poblano peppers.

queso7

Then add the roasted onion, tomatillo and jalapeno to the skillet and stir everything together.

queso55

Add the crema and stir it in well.

queso5

Reduce the mixture for about 5 minutes.

queso77
Then stir in the oregano and cumin.

queso4

Add about half of the chopped cheese to this mixture and stir it in.

queso2

Then top the mixture with the remaining cheese.

queso1

If you’re using the broiler setting on your oven, turn the broiler back on. When it’s ready, place the skillet under the broiler. It should just take a few minutes for the cheese to melt and brown.

queso

Alternatively, if you want the dip in a nicer serving dish, place everything in it first. Just make sure the dish can withstand heat from the broiler.

For the chorizo, I cooked up the crumbled sausage first, and let it drain on paper towels before starting on the queso.

queso33

To serve, I put the chorizo in the middle of the queso; it also could have been stirred in to the dip as well.

cheese

And at the last minute I sprinkled chopped cilantro over everything.

cheese5

Make sure to serve this queso hot, or the cheese will get a little rubbery if it cools. In fact, using a Sterno set-up with this queso would work really well, so it stays hot over time.

cheese3

I’m a cheese lover, but I don’t like rubbery, cold cheese!

cheese1

I served the chili verde queso with Pacifico, one of my favorite Mexican beers. It went really well. My husband stuck with Guinness.

verdict: I am very proud of this queso, which utilizes many of my favorite Southwestern flavors and ingredients. Although there are Mexican chile verdes, I was influenced by the very popular pork chile verde from New Mexico, utilizing their famous Hatch chile peppers. It was delicious!!!

By Published On: March 21st, 201443 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

43 Comments

  1. Darya March 21, 2014 at 8:11 AM - Reply

    Wow, this looks delicious! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything like what you describe here. I’ve just had lunch, but I definitely have some room left for this in my tummy!

    • chef mimi March 21, 2014 at 9:35 AM - Reply

      Hahaha! You’re funny, Darya! If you love cheese, you’d love this dip!

  2. sallybr March 21, 2014 at 8:16 AM - Reply

    That is simply scrumptious!
    I love tomatillos, to me they have the perfect sharpness and such bright taste!

    • chef mimi March 21, 2014 at 9:35 AM - Reply

      There’s a sweetness and tartness to them that’s so unique! Love them!

  3. Linda Duffin March 21, 2014 at 8:23 AM - Reply

    Gorgeous! I’ve just had lunch too, but like Darya, could also make room for that. Right now. Oh yes.

  4. Heather @ Sweet Precision March 21, 2014 at 8:41 AM - Reply

    Wow! This looks so refreshing and savory. I’ve never tried cooking with tomatillos although I’ve seen then in the store before, I may to give it a try! Growing up in the Midwest I’ll admit to eating Velveeta although I agree it’s definitely not the best!

    • chef mimi March 21, 2014 at 9:34 AM - Reply

      I really love making fun of velveeta, but please don’t take it personally! I just find it really odd, and I did used to fish with it! If you come across tomatillos, buy a half a dozen or so, They’re worth trying!

  5. StefanGourmet March 21, 2014 at 9:41 AM - Reply

    This looks great, Mimi! I’m sure we as cheese lovers would love this. I can’t get some of the ingredients around here though.

    • chef mimi March 21, 2014 at 12:34 PM - Reply

      I know. That’s too bad. Richard needs to send you another care package!!! He can get a lot more than I can where he lives!!! Give him a list!

  6. MonkeyBreadandSweetPea March 21, 2014 at 11:03 AM - Reply

    This sounds amazing. I will make this asap! I must admit that I have a secret crush on Velveeta. I’m not proud of this fact. I love my local cheese vendor and all of the amazing cheeses out there, but I thought I’d come clean about Velveeta. Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood? Don’t hold this against me;) Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!! I promise, I will not add Velveeta!!

    • chef mimi March 21, 2014 at 12:33 PM - Reply

      I won’t hold it against you!!! but I’m sure I’m going to lose followers. It’s just that I seriously don’t get velveeta!!!!!

  7. lapetitepaniere March 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM - Reply

    Looks awesome :)

  8. trixpin March 21, 2014 at 12:06 PM - Reply

    Amazing recipe, and certainly totally new for me in all respects. I’ve never used tomatillos, and never knew “queso” could refer to a dip, not simply cheese in it’s pure form.
    There are so many delicious looking ingredients it must have been very tasty :)

    • chef mimi March 21, 2014 at 12:32 PM - Reply

      Well, I have to say that it certainly was tasty! Thanks for your nice comment!

  9. That other cook... March 21, 2014 at 2:54 PM - Reply

    delicious looking recipe. I’ve never had the chance to make anything like this at home. I have to agree that queso at some mexican restaurants have been nothing but a disappointing experience, and a greasy one as well. I’m from venezuela and white cheeses is sort of our thing, like really freshly made cheeses, not aged at all. Sour creams as well… and I really love all that stuff. My favorite white cheese from back home would have to be queso guayanes… melts amazingly well for a white cheese and is sour and not too salty and so delicious! I’m gonna try to figure out how to make it at home. It’s very similar to fresh mozzarella :)

    • chef mimi March 22, 2014 at 8:52 AM - Reply

      ooohhh, I’ll have to look into Guayanes. It sounds wonderful!

  10. catherinecuisine March 21, 2014 at 10:27 PM - Reply

    Wow, this looks amazingly good! I am pinning your recipe right now :) You are right about Velveeta… it is very bad. I did not know you could go fishing with it :)

    • chef mimi March 22, 2014 at 8:52 AM - Reply

      The fish really like Velveeta!

      • catherinecuisine March 22, 2014 at 9:34 AM

        I am pretty sure the the bright orange color has something to do with this ;)

  11. Conor Bofin March 22, 2014 at 4:38 AM - Reply

    Very nice indeed Mimi. This is making me hungry again and it’s only 9.30 in the morning.

    • chef mimi March 22, 2014 at 8:51 AM - Reply

      Hahaha! I know the feeling! I happens whenever I read cookbooks!

  12. Bam's Kitchen March 22, 2014 at 8:34 AM - Reply

    I love the chorizo crumbled on top. Delicious! Tomatillos are so great roasted and I see you are wearing your trusty gloves to dissect those jalapenos – good thinking!

    • chef mimi March 22, 2014 at 8:50 AM - Reply

      I’ve burned my nose one too many times!

  13. DellaCucinaPovera March 22, 2014 at 8:47 AM - Reply

    I am right onboard with your Southwestern roll.. This looks delicious. I would probably embarrass myself and eat it with a spoon, no chips :)

  14. Preston Mitchell March 22, 2014 at 10:00 AM - Reply

    Have you ever tried Hatch Green Chile before? Making this with a package of Medium or even Hot would be delicious (actually it IS delicious, we make it all the time lol).

    • chef mimi March 22, 2014 at 10:29 AM - Reply

      Yes! I mentioned it in the post. New Mexico chile verde was my inspiration for this dip!!!

      • Preston Mitchell March 24, 2014 at 12:23 PM

        Fantastic! I hope you ordered from us if you couldn’t find it locally. If you’re already out of last year’s harvest, shoot me an email at admin@hatch-green-chile.com. I’d love to send you some of our roasted, frozen chile as a thank you for spreading the word :)

        Preston
        http://www.hatch-green-chile.com

      • chef mimi March 24, 2014 at 2:57 PM

        No, I didn’t order from you, but now that I know this website exists, I will in the future! Thanks!

  15. anotherfoodieblogger March 22, 2014 at 1:53 PM - Reply

    Tomatillos, Mexican cheeses, poblanos, chorizo, cilantro…. what could possible go wrong with this combination? NOTHING! This is a winner. :)

  16. Phil @foodfrankly March 23, 2014 at 5:47 AM - Reply

    Wow. That would be my perfect Mexican dish Mimi. Lovely.

  17. Feeding7Sisters.com March 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM - Reply

    This looks so good. I love all things cheese, and I have to admit to even using the dreaded Velveeta every once in awhile for that smooth melt! Sorry! :)

    • chef mimi March 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM - Reply

      No apologies! Just don’t invite me over if you’re serving it!!!

  18. eliotthecat March 23, 2014 at 4:11 PM - Reply

    I will so make this when I can get fresh tomatillos and peppers! I agree—most queso is little more than disgusting liquid glop. But definitely not this dish!!!!

    • chef mimi March 28, 2014 at 9:04 AM - Reply

      I actually tasted some at El Chico last week and it was so horrid I couldn’t believe it.

  19. KerryCan March 24, 2014 at 6:45 AM - Reply

    Sounds delish! I’m going to pass this along to my husband, the cook in the family!

    • chef mimi March 24, 2014 at 8:20 AM - Reply

      You’ll love it!!! Thanks for your comment!

  20. thewindykitchen March 26, 2014 at 5:29 PM - Reply

    this looks absolutely delicious! and I agree those cheese dips that people bring to serve with chips and salsa are horrendous!

    • chef mimi March 28, 2014 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      I wish they wouldn’t even bother putting it out. It’s got to be a huge waste of some amount of money.

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